Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Christmas comes incredibly early this year. I open up this freshly gift-wrapped turd and was confronted with mind-numbing stupidity. After watching this tripe, I had to take a nap, and I cried myself to sleep. I’m not sure, but I think this film has given me permanent brain damage. I still see them when I close my eyes. Green leotards. Brown face paint. Illogical head apparatuses. But all of that pales in comparison to that unearthly laughter. Santa has come to town, and he’s kind of scary.

This is probably the most notable film I’ve reviewed thus far. It’s infamous for being one of the worst films ever made, and it’s a favorite episode of MST3K among many of its fans. This movie has already been torn to ribbons. I can’t live up to that, and I’m not even going to try. All I can do is tell you about my personal experience watching the film, and it was one of bewilderment. It began with the opening salvo of an insipid theme song, “Hooray for Santy Claus”, a nauseatingly upbeat tune for a film in which, based on the title, Santa is supposed to conquer a planet. I wish that’s what happened. I wish Santa rode his sleigh up to Mars, toting a machine gun, and forcefully toppled the Martian government. Now that would have kicked copious amounts of ass. Instead, I got a strange awkward tale about kidnapping Santa with a little Stockholm’s Syndrome thrown in for good measure.

Let’s talk about the titular Martians. These are probably the goofiest looking Martians ever put on screen. They’re so lazy looking. Brown face paint, green leotards, and goofy headgear, and then boom, you got yourself a martian. They have an assortment of purposely improbable technology like tickle rays, sleep sprays, and food pills that come in a variety of flavors like hamburger and chocolate ice cream.

While it’s December on Earth, it’s the middle of Septober on Mars. Yup. Septober. For some reason, the children are enraptured with Earth television. The Martian Sage believes that children of Mars desire the childhood they never really had because all the information that can be learned is programmed into their brains. He tells the Martian King that if the children do not have some fun they will rebel. The only way to rectify this apparently is to get a Santa Claus for Mars. Clearly, the best course of action is to kidnap Santa, right?

Well, that’s precisely what they decide to do. But when they arrive at Earth, they are confused to see a number of Santas on every street corner. It’s only when they speak to two children, Billy and Betty, do they realize that those Santas are merely impersonators and the one true Santa lives at the North Pole. The Martians decide to take the children as well for some reason. At the North Pole, some hijinks with the children ensue including an attack from a person in a terrible looking polar bear suit and a person in a terrible looking robot suit.

santa-claus-conquers-the-martians-2
Give the costume designer a raise!

The Martians succeed in capturing Santa, which incites a response from the UN to rescue him, but nothing comes of that. Yawn. All the while Voldar, the primary antagonist has been dissenting. He views Santa as an infectious disease, that he will corrupt all of Mars. From what I can tell he’s right. Just from the being in the same vicinity as Santa, the robot that they send after him becomes a toy and the Martians become giggling idiots. I’m with Voldar on this. Santa might not be conquering the Martians, but his presence is going to inadvertently topple their government. Voldar tries to send Santa and the kiddies out the airlock, but they escape that situation. We’re not really told how, just that he is Santa, and Santa is magical.

On Mars, Santa gets right to making toys for the Martian children. He doesn’t seem too put out by being kidnapped. Even when he’s told he can never return to Earth, he still joyfully makes the toys. He and the kids are very jovial to their captors. The King and his wife even start treating the kids like their own children. Everyone exchanges laughter in this very creepy situation.

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The mix of horror and confusion on those children’s faces. . .

Voldar makes one final attempt to thwart Santa, by messing with the toy machine. Teddy bears with doll heads, dolls with bear head, baseball tennis rackets, and so on. Unfortunately for Voldar, Santa is an Eldritch demon and can command the toy abominations to attack. I was so wiped out by the insanity of it all, so I don’t remember what befell Voldar after the attack of the toys, but in my mind he was ripped limb from limb as Santa looked on, laughing maniacally as he did so.

What a weird movie. It was to be expected with that title. When you throw Santa and Martians in the same stew, you are bound to come away with a strange taste in your mouth. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a blast to watch. This movie earns its “so bad that it’s good” reputation. I just wish there was more conquering with machine guns and coup d’états. But ultimately I got an entertainingly kooky movie. Give it a watch with a group of friends. Merry Christmas!

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